Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik admitted that she was surprised when she first heard that income assistance clients received fewer dollars from the territorial government if they won at bingo or other lotteries.

Minister of Family Services Elisapee Sheutiapik says income assistance legislation is being reviewed, including to determine whether bingo and other lottery winnings will no longer be clawed back.
photo courtesy Michel Albert/Legislative Assembly

“It is being reviewed to see if we can change that,” Sheutiapik said in the legislative assembly on Monday while under questioning from Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie.

Towtongie said she learned of an instance where someone had income assistance reduced due to a $40 bingo prize.

“In Nunavut $40 cannot buy anything. Maybe it can buy a bit of pampers and toilet paper. That’s about it,” she said. “I find it very disheartening that income assistance clients have their benefits reduced simply because they have had the good luck to win at bingo or in a lottery… We all need hope and a bingo win is a sign that good things can happen and it can help them buy big items. We should be able to enjoy our windfall instead of receiving it with one hand and then having money taken out of the other hand.”

Towtongie repeatedly asked Sheutiapik to ensure bingo and lottery winnings are no longer deducted from income assistance.

Sheutiapik replied, “It’s not easy to change legislation. Policy would have been one thing, but it’s in the legislation… I can’t just arbitrarily give direction to staff to stop doing something. The legislation itself has to be changed. My goodness, if I started running my department or our government on just giving direction and put aside legislation, we wouldn’t be running properly. I have already given direction to my staff to look at amending the legislation.”

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19 Comments

  1. Not only that… one time I sent an emt to a family member who was away in Ottawa for medical to buy me laundry detergent and clothes for my kids… that emt I sent was deducted from their income support I felt so bad!!!

  2. Hello there sorry to post on here but i also have a concern, This one time few years ago my father and late mother recieved a t5 from social assistant, they were confused because not once they have received income support because they were on old age security and they were doing fine without income support, but i was wondering how is that even possible if they received t5 without having 1 cent from them

  3. This is just bingo. The other thing they do is force their clients to apply for Child Support, some against their will but they do it because they will get penalized if don’t apply for child support. They don’t get welfare unless they apply.

  4. Even the emt that is sent to the person who receives income support is deducted, that’s not fair. Our online banking is our private, meaning that’s OUR online banking, not the worker to see. People who receive income support are to open up their online banking so the worker can see if this person received any money, that’s a private matter, not good. Bingo winnings are being deducted too, small selling like wall hanging etc too. That’s not fair!

  5. Not only that, they always need to look at our Bank Statement and go through checking to make sure no one sent EMT. If someone did, then they will take off that EMT from our income support, even though the EMT may not be for us or trade for cash or in the city if they want something. They ask every little question too about it and tell us not to do it the next time or it will be taken off again on next appointment for income support. It never used to be like this in my younger years, why have this changed or become this way? Income support workers are not working and only getting paid once a month, not every two weeks like them workers and it’s very hard to try manage food with only once a month cheque.

  6. They have been doing this all over. They even deduct child tax and gst refunds from Social assistance. That’s not income. It is a supplement for the lower income makers. A continuous cycle of getting less and less support when people are already suffering as it is. When people get income tax refunds, they deduct those too even when that tax refund is income already reported the prior year! They’re just getting their overpaid tax back!! Government ripping off the people they’re hired to serve!!

  7. I love these comments….
    “They make you apply for child support”….Of course they do!! Why should the taxpayers have to pay for your kid when there is a parent who can pay???
    “They deduct bingo and lottery winnings” “They deduct money other people give you or money that you earn by selling things”…..Why shouldn’t they? Welfare is supposed to be a bare-minimum, temporary survival payment, not a supplement to your other sources of income…
    Here’s an idea…If you don’t like welfare, GET A JOB AND STOP CRAPPING OUT CHILDREN THAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD!!!! Stop expecting someone else to pay your way!!
    “it’s very hard to try manage food with only once a month cheque”……Again, GET A JOB!!! You’ll find that you EARN more money AND get paid every two weeks….

    1. If only, it was that easy to get our children accepted into daycare, without having a limit to accepting children.

    2. We’re living up north. Most hardest place to find a job. Every one everywhere is struggling to find a job in Nunavut.

  8. One could also point out that welfare money is supposed to be for essentials, people shouldn’t be gambling with the taxpayer’s money, or drinking, or smoking, or riding around in taxis….

  9. I Personally have been under the Income support. Couple years back, I was escorting a patient but therefore we only could receive $300 for 2 of us. We could not get all the income we were supposed to receive. I learned that we lost $600 per month while we were stuck in the hospital due to Chemo therapy treatment. We were treated very differently than other clients. It’s even worst if we had to give out our bank statements, Visa statements.

  10. And also they check our bank statements and if someone emt us they also deduct that and they check our coop visa and they also deduct that even if it comes from our income a month after getting our income.

  11. We don’t know what others been going through, they may have a hard time looking for babysitter when they finally looking for permanent job. Other thing is that carvers can not get income from them because they are making money from it and it’s not good enough for their family. One of my cousin been through it. They had to wait till child tax to feed their kids.

  12. If the mother isn’t working and their Father is working or the other way around.. and paying for child support, and they aren’t together. They should get into that too!!

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